Saturday, May 22, 2010

Okay, We Won't Prosecute You for Double Murder, That'll Be $5 Million

Alabama Online is reporting on the Coosa County Assistant prosecutor and a local Gadsden, Alabama lawyer who took the chance of a lifetime and appear to have lost.  They collected a $1 million dollar check and were looking for a lot more in an extortion scheme in which they were promising not to indict an extortion target for double murder.  This Gothic tale has all the attributes of a Southern murder mystery, the following is from the Alabama Online account:

"The assistant district attorney for Coosa County and a Gadsden attorney were arrested Wednesday night on charges they used the threat of a capital murder indictment in a 1995 double homicide to extort $5 million.Assistant D.A. Frank Selman Teel (pic, left) and lawyer Frank Wayne Bailey (pic, right) are charged with extortion, bribery and ethics violations, according to a statement from the state attorney general's office. The men were arrested at the law office of attorney Jay Stover around 5 p.m., according to authorities.

Stover was hired by another victim, Carl Weaver, who believed he was the target of an extortion scheme.The Gadsden Times reported Bailey, 58, represented a third man who survived the 1995 incident, Roger Darrell Firestone, of Hokes Bluff, in a potential lawsuit. Teel, 59, of Sylacauga was associated with the case. 'That was the source of their bargaining,' Chris Bence, spokesman for Attorney General Troy King, told The Birmingham News.  Charles Thomas Amberson Jr., 41, and Darrell Thomas Coleman, 39, both of Gadsden, died after suffering severe burns in a fire and explosion on May 16, 1995, in the Unity community, the Times reported. . . According to warrants provided by the attorney general's office, the extortion scheme began March 24, when Teel, aided by Bailey, tried to get Weaver to write a $1 million check.
Other court documents state Teel agreed to accept a $5 million check in exchange for using "his position to prevent the indictment of Carl Weaver.  Teel was being held Thursday at the Etowah County Jail on bonds totaling $10,000; Bailey on bonds totaling $11,000.   Teel is charged with second-degree extortion, accepting a bribe, and intentional use of his public position for unlawful personal gain. Bailey is charged with second-degree extortion, accepting a bribe, aiding and abetting Teel in the intentional misuse of Teel's public position, and carrying a concealed pistol without a permit, according to the Etowah County Jail log.
'It's unfortunate. You hate to see folks alleged to be involved in anything unethical,' Murphy said."
No kidding!

The Gadsden Times account provides details of the assault on the three men resulting in the two homicides for which our two unfortunate lawyers allegedly sought to extort $5 mil.  In the underlying 1995 crime the three assault victims had been trussed, and set on fire on a property that held a hunting and fishing lodge.  Over 100 marijuana plants were also discovered.  It seems that the crime victims were either involved in or stumbled upon a major drug operation. 

Lawyers are ethically prohibited from threatening criminal prosecution for the purpose of effecting a civil settlement.   In other words, extortion.  It's pretty rare that you can get a prosecutor's active participation, though.


  1. Lawyers are not barred from threatening criminal action solely to gain an advantage in a civil case in the more modern jurisdictions. Our podunk, backwards, Appalachian State still has that rule on the books. The ABA model rules, as a good example, have removed that prohibition.

  2. Lawyers might threaten criminal action for a civil case but no where that I know of does a D.A. have the authority to manufacture evidence against a person and then threaten to prosecute if he's not paid several million dollars.

  3. Anon at 9:46
    You are correct that under the ABA model rules, the former prohibition against threatening legal action is not explicit. It is however subsumed under 8.4, do you disagree? I'm guessing the lawyer who get's caught doing it, will find him or herself in violation of 8.4.

    Anon at 4:12
    You got that right.

  4. why is the fact that James Hayes had the land rented never mentioned in the news papers in Gadsden, and was did he really die form a heart attack, or was he a loose end. I wonder how police in this town can have homes and property, to the scale they have,on their salaries, have always wondered, but no one ever asks? How was this not investigated when the crime happened, in 1995 about the land being leased by a Etowah County Sheriff at the time, and the FBI needs to be all up in that county, something i very wrong, judges are representing known drug dealers...who in the hell wants to trust that judge, no matter, and someone that may have well had people burned up and killed, those boys in prison have a good story to tell, can't wait til they get out of jail, I see a movie in the making.

  5. I'm certainly very happy to read this blog site posts which carries plenty of helpful data, thanks for providing such information.Joseph Tacopina

  6. Of course nobody says anything after Anon at 9:30

  7. Y'all have no clue what really went down here. Investigate the crime that happened to their client